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The assimilation of historic photography and cartography into longterm coastal geomorphological analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Associated organisational unit

Journal publication date2010
JournalProcedia Environmental Sciences
Number of pages7
Original languageEnglish


Long-term coastal changes have traditionally been analyzed using cartographic sources supplemented by anecdotal descriptions of the coastal configuration where available. These studies have been susceptible to many problems as the cartographic sources differ in terms of the surveying techniques, the accuracy, and the representation of features on the final map, amongst other factors. Modern research on coastal areas has focused on using data collected over recent time-scales and often ignores the historical information provided through maps, because of the problems that are faced with defining the true accuracy and reliability of the information that they provide. In this study, historic photographs used on popular picture postcards are integrated as a data source for the purpose of assessing and supplementing information contained in historic maps. Using the coastline of Heysham, Lancashire, UK as a case study, it is shown that historic photography (postcards) allows the researcher to quantify the accuracy of historic Ordnance Survey (OS) maps at a fine spatial scale, and identify the timing of coastal change that occurs between mapping surveys. The improved information is useful for a variety of purposes, such as land-use change or urban development history.